NAVAL AIR FACILITY EL CENTRO, Calif. -- Marines with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division (MarDiv), conducted exercise Summer Fury 2017 at Naval Air Facility (NAF) El Centro, California, Aug. 1 through 7.
Summer Fury was an opportunity for air and ground units to exercise the skills needed during a combat deployment, test their ability to run a command operations center and provide dedicated air support to a battalion of infantry Marines.
During this exercise, Marines with 3rd MAW and 1st MarDiv practiced integrating as a Marine air-ground task force (MAGTF), which includes a ground combat element (GCE), air combat element (ACE), command element and logistics combat element, to complete a battalion level insert on Aug. 4 and an extract on Aug. 7.
“We were tasked with getting a battalion of Marines out to the landing zone in the desert, resupply them and then bring them back,” said Capt. Douglas Chavez, flight equipment and ordnance officer in charge and a CH-53E pilot with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 466 and a Big Timber, Montana, native.
More than 20 aircraft from 3rd MAW deployed in support of Summer Fury, including CH-53E Super Stallions, MV-22B Ospreys, AH-1W Cobras, UH-1Y Hueys, a KC-130J Hercules and an RQ-21 Blackjack from 3rd MAW deployed to support Summer Fury.
According to Capt. Christopher McCoy, a CH-53 pilot with HMH-466 and a Winter Park, Colorado, native, Summer Fury was important because it enabled the 3rd MAW to gain experience in working as part of a MAGTF.
“The aviation and ground community got to work together so closely on such a large-scale exercise that provided great training for everyone, making this exercise a big success,” said McCoy.
During the exercise, several units from 3rd MAW provided close air support, transported troops and equipment, and extended communication abilities in a desert environment – all of which contribute to the ACE mission.
“The ultimate reason that aviation is here is for the ground guys,” said Chavez. “Us supporting them is what matters.”
This exercise offered a more dynamic experience; usually this kind of training is conducted on a simulator, added McCoy.
“Even if someone has done it before, it gives the Marines more experience and enhances their capabilities,” explained McCoy. “Anybody who hasn’t done it gets a good picture as to what it looks like to actually work with other units, especially the [ground combat element.]”